FAIRFAX, Va. — The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has released its biannual list of vector areas in the 10 major U.S. cities with the greatest risk of increased vector pest pressure for the remainder of winter and into spring. It’s typical to see spikes in rodent pressure during the cool fall and winter months, but experts warn that warmer fall and winter days can contribute to increased tick pressure and mosquitoes this season.
“Most of the country experienced an abnormally warm fall, even reaching record highs for November and December in some areas. Although the mild weather was welcomed by those who hate freezing cold, it allowed pest populations to thrive much longer than they normally would, creating the opportunity for increased vector pest pressure this spring,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., NPMA chief entomologist. “However, intense snow and ice storms in late January and February likely send rodents into homes in search of shelter and food.”
Ticks, mosquitoes and rodents are known threats to public health. A notorious carrier of Lyme disease, the tick can also spread anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Mosquitoes can transmit the potentially deadly West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) to humans and rodents are known to spread more than 35 diseases including salmonellosis, hantavirus and plague.
The top 10 U.S. cities* on the National Pest Management Association’s list of vector areas include:
Cleveland: Warmer than average temperatures throughout the winter, combined with sunny days, can lead to increased tick activity.
Denver: Above average temperatures in November and December will allow ticks to become active on the hottest days.
Greenville: Heavy snowfalls in January and February could lead to soils saturated with excess water. When combined with spring showers, areas of standing water can create breeding grounds for mosquitoes when temperatures start to rise.
Hartford: As temperatures continue to drop and snowfall increases throughout the winter, expect rodent pressure to increase as they head indoors to seek shelter.
Los Angeles: Heavy rainfall combined with warmer temperatures may have kept mosquitoes active longer than in previous years.
Miami: Mosquitoes will continue to thrive throughout the season with increased rainfall and above average temperatures.
Minneapolis: Heavy snowfalls expected in late winter can drive rodents indoors in search of warmer protected areas. Beware of increased tick activity due to a warmer than average November.
New York: After a warm fall and early winter, heavy snowstorms will drive rodents indoors in search of shelter and nesting sites.
Salt Lake City: A relatively warm fall and winter, combined with below average snowfall, can lead to increased tick activity.
Seattle: Below average temperatures combined with heavy snowfall can cause rodents to seek food and shelter indoors. Excessive rainfall will promote vegetation growth, providing ticks with more shelter and breeding sites during colder months.
*Arranged in alphabetical order, not numerical classification.
To limit pest encounters, the NPMA recommends eliminating sources of standing water in and around the home, including fixing leaky pipes and clogged drains and sealing entry points. such as cracks or gaps where plumbing pipes and utility lines enter the structure. Be sure to clear all gutters and downspouts of debris, as water buildup provides ideal conditions for pests to breed.
When spending time outdoors, regularly check clothing, skin, and pets for ticks. Wear long pants and long sleeves when possible, as well as insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET to limit exposure to mosquitoes. Also, be sure not to wear scented perfumes and opt for light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
If pests become a problem, be sure to contact a licensed pest control professional to help identify and properly treat infestations.
For more information on NPMA’s list of vector areas and to learn more about protecting against common household pests, visit PestWorld.org.